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47 Ronin (2013)

6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 56,463 users   Metascore: 29/100
Reviews: 229 user | 172 critic | 21 from Metacritic.com

A band of samurai set out to avenge the death and dishonor of their master at the hands of a ruthless shogun.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Kai
...
Ôishi
...
Mika (as Kô Shibasaki)
...
...
Lord Asano
...
Masayoshi Haneda ...
...
Hazama
...
Hiroshi Yamada ...
Hara
Shû Nakajima ...
Horibe
...
Neil Fingleton ...
Lovecraftian Samurai
...
Natsuki Kunimoto ...
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Storyline

While hunting in the forest, Lord Asano of Ako and his samurai find a young half-breed and take him with them to live in the castle. Several years later, Lord Asano holds a tournament to welcome the Shogun to Ako. The night after the tournament, Lord Asano is bewitched into hurting Lord Kira of Nagato, and is punished into committing seppuku by the Shogun. Realizing that it was a Lord Kira's evil plot, the samurais and the half-breed sets out for revenge against the Shogun's order. Written by Immanuel A.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This Christmas, seize eternity.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, and thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

25 December 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

47 Ronin  »

Box Office

Budget:

$175,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,869,000 (USA) (27 December 2013)

Gross:

$38,297,305 (USA) (31 January 2014)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Five Japanese actors were cast alongside Keanu Reeves (Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Kou Shibasaki and Jin Akanishi) to make the story more authentic instead of picking actors that would be recognizable in the United States. See more »

Goofs

Mika is awoken by the witch and told that Kai has been killed. The witch sticks a knife into the floorboard beside Mika's head. It is shown from different angles, however, when the witch is leaving the room, the knife is lying on a pillow. In the next shot, the knife is once again stuck in the floorboard. See more »

Quotes

Ôishi: No one, but you and I, can know that you are, and will always be, the joy of my life.
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Connections

Referenced in Chelsea Lately: Episode #7.178 (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An odd, fantastical twist on a true story - not as bad as you're expecting, though not as good as history would have it.
18 December 2013 | by (http://shawneofthedead.wordpress.com/) – See all my reviews

It never bodes well for a film when its release date is delayed - much less when it's been pushed back a whole year, ostensibly to accommodate reshoots that would bump up Keanu Reeves' completely imaginary role in a Western blockbuster take on a classic, awe-inspiring tale right out of the Japanese history books. That way lies disaster and madness, one would think - and certainly the bland, monster-heavy trailers for 47 Ronin did the film no favours. Smack down your inner critic, however, and this epic fantasy flick - for that's what it is - turns out to be reasonably palatable fare.

The bare bones of the true story are all there: the kindly Lord Asano (Min Tanaka) is ordered to commit seppuku - ritual suicide by disembowelment - when he almost mortally offends Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano - a nicely ironic name if ever there was one). This renders all the honourable samurai in Asano's service masterless i.e., ronin. Led by the noble Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), the loyal band of 47 ronin vow to avenge Asano - even though they have been ordered by their Shogun (top military commander) not to do so.

What's less accurate, of course, is pretty much all the rest of it. Reeves plays Kai, a half-British, half-Japanese orphan who's taken in by Asano but treated like an outcast by everyone in the household - except, of course, for Asano's loving daughter Mika (Kou Shibasaki). Kira's nefarious plans have the support of Mizuki (Rinko Kikuchi), a witch who can apparently take any form she likes: wolf, snake or dragon. It's all a bit nonsensical, especially when Kai tries to get swords for the ronin amongst some pretty creepy folk who have gone from society's outcasts to being part of what looks like a supernatural cult.

In other words, 47 Ronin is a faintly ridiculous addition to the wealth of Chūshingura - fictionalised accounts of the 47 ronin tale - that already exist in Japan. It's the kind of big, dumb blockbuster in which the good guys literally live to die another day as long as the plot calls for it. These fearless ronin even survive when the villain is protected by a witch with crazy mystical powers! She can set an entire field on fire, create poisonous spiders and turn into a dragon! And the ronin - at least 47 of them - live anyway! It's crazy!

That's what makes it all the more surprising when 47 Ronin turns out to be... well,actually not half-bad. Once you've accepted the sillier aspects of the film for what they are, it's easy to get swept along by its very earnest drama and spectacle. Reeves' storyline is a made-up jumble of nonsense, but is played very straight - this is, in effect, Sad Keanu: The Movie - and it just about works. Casting Reeves as the outsider allows him to do what he does best: play the role with stony-faced reserve, whether he's levelling up by battling demons in cage matches or pining moodily after Mika. Kai's restrained love story with Mika is fairly predictable stuff, with the girl fading a little too much into the background (don't expect any bloodletting from Shibasaki, Battle Royale fans), but it's salvaged by the rather non-Hollywood way in which it all ends.

For all that Reeves takes centre stage in the publicity campaign, the film belongs just as much to Sanada's Oishi. He undertakes a more arduous emotional journey: one that takes him from grudging to full-hearted acceptance of Kai's worth as a warrior and comrade. His relationship with his family is more fully examined than Kai's unwavering loyalty to the Asano clan. As Oishi plots his course of action, one that will bring him shame for disobeying the Shogun even as he avenges his master, he warns his wife and son Chikara (Jin Akanishi) to disavow him. Their reactions provide some of the most emotionally resonant moments in the entire film.

All things considered, the title of the film is a bit of a misnomer - it would more accurately be called 2 Ronin, subtitled Oishi And Kai's Excellent Adventure - and it suffers from a lamentable lack of humour and historical accuracy. But it's not a complete travesty. Tucked away beneath a layer of mystical beasts and witches lies a story with enough heart, nobility and soul to survive even the oddest twists and turns.


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